Hanoi: The Philippines recorded the biggest upset in the history of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday evening as Simon McMenemy's side handed defending champions Vietnam a 2-0 defeat in their Group B encounter at My Dinh Stadium.
Chris Greatwich and Phil Younghusband scored a goal in each half to give the unfancied Filipinos the greatest result in the country's recent history and leave them on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals for the first time.
The win follows fast on the heels of a 1-1 draw with Singapore in their opening game and moves the Philippines to the top of the standings with one round of matches remaining.
After a tame start it was the Philippines who went closest to opening the scoring when, the 18th minute, the Vietnamese defence failed to clear Phil Younghusband's corner and the ball fell at the feet of Ian Araneta, but his shot was only good enough to clip the outside of the post.
That scare woke the home side out of their early slumbers but, fortunately for the Filipinos, goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was on hand to keep out Pham Thanh Luong's effort a minute later.
An elementary error by the Fulham goalkeeper, however, almost resulted in disaster for the Philippines moments later when Etheridge handled the ball outside his penalty area and, from the resulting free kick, Nguyen Minh Phuong curled a free kick around the defensive wall that went just wide of goal.
With seven minutes remaining in the half, the Philippines stunned the Vietnamese when Anton del Rosario crossed for Greatwich to claim his second goal of the tournament, a diving header that was somehow miss-read by Duong Hong Son.
Vietnam could find no way through the well-drilled Philippine defence throughout the rest of the half and, as the second period began, Henrique Calisto's team became increasingly desperate.
Nguyen Vu Phuong shot just wide from the edge of the area in the 56th minute while Rob Gier deflected Nguyen Anh Duc's effort wide four minutes later. Substitute Nguyen Trong Hoang, meanwhile, forced a fine save from the imposing Etheridge just two minutes after his introduction.
But, with 11 minutes remaining, the Philippines managed to put the result beyond doubt when, with Vietnam committing men forward, Phil Younghusband led a break that resulted in the former Chelsea trainee stepping inside the home defence and curling a low shot beyond Hong Son.
The goal silenced the 40,000 capacity crowd at My Dinh and, as supporters poured out of the stands and into the streets Pham Thanh Luong hit the woodwork as Vietnam's desperation continued right until the final whistle.
Monday, 6 December 2010